Odisha Agriculture Budget 2020: KALIA funds down Rs 2,416 crore, Rs 3K for godowns & Irrigation allocation dips 2.85%!

A reformative Finance Minister proudly claims of saving 1K trees by adopting e-budget, but Pujari seemingly has missed the woods for the trees when it comes to allocations for vital growth chips in the farming sector

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari walked into the history books on Tuesday, when he tabled an electronic budget in the State Assembly.

Hailing the historic moment, FM Pujari claimed that this e-budget exercise has saved a massive 1000 trees. The FM did deserve applause for initiating many transparent reforms in budget making and presentation. But it seems, FM Pujari, though, has saved the trees but has seemingly missed the woods for the trees.

While many eye-popping reforms have been introduced by the FM in budget making and delivering hassle-free governance etc, the most fervently needed reforms in the State’s farm sector are seen missing. The farm budget is more of a rhetoric than a reformative one. Allocations don’t show the State government’s resolve of doubling the farmers income.

Consider the hard numbers. The Odisha budget 2020-21 has allocated Rs 6,817.13 crore for farming sector. Significantly, the State government’s pet scheme KALIA sees an allocation of Rs 3,195 crore, which is a whopping Rs 2,416 crore less than 2019-20.

It has been observed that even after slashing of the KALIA budget, the pet scheme has taken a lion’s share of around 47 per cent of the allocation. Since KALIA is a revenue expenditure scheme, the capital outlay for the farm sector has been estimated at around mere Rs 54 crore.

What reforms the farm sector needed? The farm distress in Odisha is basically attributed to farmers getting marginal net returns on agri produces. Farmers urgently need warehousing facilities, crop diversification, increased productivity per hectare and a big push to allied activities.

It’s exactly in these vital parameters, the Farm Budget is lacking the focus.

When allocation for soil and water conservation has been mere Rs 234 crore, for diary development its mere Rs 54 crore. Fisheries sector saw an allocation of around Rs 265.54 crore. And  for Warehousing infrastructure,  the allocation has been mere Rs 10 crore. Similarly, for construction of godown, the allocation made stood at mere Rs 3000.

While during procurement, it has been observed that the SC, PACs and LAMPS have an acute space constraint, and untimely rain spoils the paddy produces, the budget has allocated mere Rs 3 crore.

But with an eye on votes, the budget has provisioned an additional Rs 110 crore under the KALIA scheme for farmers welfare.  

The economic survey 2019-20 has indicated that lack of irrigation is compelling farmers to quit the farming. Regarding allocations for irrigation, the budget 2020-21 has allocated Rs 646 crore for major irrigation projects, Rs 93.6 crore for medium irrigation and Rs 1,688 crore for minor irrigation projects. For CAD, a sum of Rs 316 crore has been provisioned.

Overall, the allocation in 2020-21 for irrigation and flood control stood at Rs 9,374.4 crore vis-a-vis Rs 9,650 crore in 2019-20. This shows the allocations are marginally down.